Chapter 36. Don't Dream It's Over

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I got so excited when the phone rang. It's actually embarrassing how I - pajama-clad and groggy-eyed at five in the morning, jumped out of a deep sleep to grab the phone on the nightstand, having waited so long for Sam to get around and call me back.

When he asked to see me at dawn, well, I more than willingly comprised my morning routine to five minutes and left the house before any other Hazan family member woke up.

My thighs froze from sitting on the frost-covered bleachers out by the Warhol Warthogs' baseball field. I wrapped my arms around my knees, posing in a near-fetal position as I watched the sun rising behind the naked trees and snow-overloaded roofs in the nearby neighborhood.

That fever of mine had passed, but the sniffles were still going at it. My hands were in constant motion, wiping snot off my face. If this was any other meeting I'd be anxious to get it over with so I could escape the cold and run back inside. Not this one, though, why goes without saying.

You always had that feeling after being out sick, that everything that happened in your absence had the potential to be overwhelming.

Come on, Marcia. It's not like the world as you know it changed drastically in two days - or did it?!

At first sight, it didn't seem like it.

Sam showed up on the other side of the field, waving both arms to announce his arrival. I gave him a tiny wave back, me and my frozen hand. He jogged across the field, stumbling in his steps here and there, but otherwise he was fine. The closer he came, the more I noticed the gleam in his unusually bulging eyes, like he'd just had a revelation.

It was definitely how I had hoped he would look, much preferred over the unapproachable, cold Sam I heard over the phone last night - whose eyes I could only assume did not have the same gleam.

I didn't think much about what made him come around, I was just happy we could finally sit down and talk. Strictly speaking, it took Sam a while to actually sit down, stopping in front of me to catch his breath while his feet subtly marched on the spot.

"Thanks for coming," he said, short of breath as he smiled.

"Thanks for finally wanting to speak to me," I answered, the crass comment came automatically, "seriously, I'm glad we could-"

"Yeah, me too," Sam interrupted, touching up his bewildered hair before having a seat on my left, "it's really good to see you. You know, it's no fun when you're not around."

Again: I didn't think much about what made him come around.

"Don't count on me being too much fun," I warned, "we're no longer in the sleuthing business, remember?"

"Doesn't matter, we'll do something else," he quickly responded, like he had so many words on his mind he had to hurry putting them all out there, "hey, I'm really sorry I've been blowing you off. You see, I've been so busy, and my mind's been like, outta control. You get it, right? I mean you know I wouldn't hurt you on purpose."

"It's fine, Sam," I told him, "I was just worried you were ignoring me because of the... jail stuff."

"A little bit," Sam admitted, wrapping his arms around his knees like I was, leaning down so we could see eye-to-eye, "I was kinda scared of talking after what I told you."

Here it was: the long-awaited talk. In the days of anticipating it I must have forgotten how awkward it would be. Especially when I had to bite my tongue, ignore my heart pounding, and ask him:

"Did you mean any of it? What you said... about us?"

Sam's mouth opened, he tried to answer several times, but no sound came out. He closed it, swallowed, and tried again:

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